After completing my degree in 2012 I moved back to my home town of Sheffield, excitedly awaiting the opportunity and enjoyment that was sure to come from blossoming into an art graduate.
However, in place of the expected job offers and commissions, came long dreary days consisting of application forms for positions which refused to challenge me and thoughts of hopelessness that played on my mind through the eternal, sleepless nights.
I was in a rut. Even after completing my Master’s degree and managing to secure 30 hours of paid work a week, I was merely existing.
I had a family, a partner and a group of friends, but they were all over the country, and due to the nature of my casual job, I couldn’t travel every weekend to visit them.
I’d also become distant with one of my oldest and dearest friends – art.
I discovered that I was not alone in my detachment from the world with 40 per cent of adults admitting to feelings of loneliness.
Alarmingly, further reading revealed that loneliness in the elderly community can result in premature death.
Feeling a sudden guilt at the thought that I could be slowly shortening my life, I realised I needed to do something to better my mental wellbeing.
I discovered 35 Chapel Walk through simply happening upon it walking through Sheffield one weekend. I could see its potential as a creative space, but what I could have never have anticipated was the welcome I would receive.
I was welcome, I was equal and most important of all I was accepted.
The gallery has an incredible team behind it and nurturing community around it.
Its programme offers a wide variety of exhibitions, workshops and events, providing local artists with a platform to showcase their work and a space for them to network and thrive; both artistically and spiritually.
I still return every week to create, socialise and help where I can. When I can’t spend a lot of time at the gallery during the day I make sure that I attend the life drawing sessions on Thursdays, 7pm-9pm.
So I ask you to save yourself from an early death: Fight the social anxiety, find like-minded people and do what you love.